Bringing education and support to Black myeloma patients is essential to discovering better treatments and cures for all patients, a goal the HealthTree Foundation has embraced by launching Blackmyelomahealth.org.
The website will serve as an informational hub for Black patients and caregivers as well as a forum to increase awareness of and access to specialized myeloma resources.
“We believe addressing the inequities and barriers generally faced by Black myeloma patients must be addressed by all parts of our community because it benefits all parts our community,” said HealthTree Foundation CEO and myeloma patient Jenny Ahlstrom, “and we are doing our part by investing in real resources, time, and dedicated people.”
Creation of the website is part of the foundation’s African American initiative, I Am My Brother’s Keeper. It will feature a Black Myeloma News section dedicated to keeping the community informed by covering relevant healthcare topics that are critical to help make good treatment decisions. Additional topics such as nutrition and financial matters are also included.
Original articles and others reposted from the Myeloma Crowd website are designed to help each patient to learn and gain insight to become their own best advocate.
The African American initiative team includes Marsha Calloway-Campbell, Director and a myeloma caregiver, Valarie Traynham, African American Chapter Lead/African American Facebook Group Moderator and myeloma patient, Diahanna Vallentine, Financial Program Manager for the HealthTree Foundation and a myeloma widow, and Patient Navigator, Constance Boyd.
We also have dedicated, talented, and trained Myeloma Coaches available to counsel patients one-on-one. Among those ready to assist are Jackie McFarlin (Hawthorne, CA), Tony Newberne (Mint Hill, NC), Andrea Ellingen (Columbus, OH), Novlette Griffin, Stevonia Cunningham, Jasson Osborn (Dallas, TX), Cassandra McDonald (Euclid Heights, OH), Sonja Henry (Tampa, FL), and Kimberly Heath (Las Vegas, NV). All have a special connection to multiple myeloma and have had unique experiences from which others can learn. And regardless of where they live, telephones and computers are here to connect you with any of them.
Or perhaps you have the interest to join them? Contact us and we’ll figure it out.
It’s also important to have myeloma specialists who are Black, a number we have to see grow. Those we work with include Drs. Brandon Blue (Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL),Craig Cole (Michigan State University), Shakira Grant (University of North Carolina), and Monique Hartley-Brown (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). We’ll keep you up to date on their latest research and publications.
In addition to keeping up with our African American Community Chapter’s programs, we’ll keep working to make sure the website will give voice to many spoken and unspoken issues about myeloma.
Help us spread the word about the new website. Share it with your family, friends, churches, social organizations, sororities, fraternities, hospitals, cancer centers, support groups, social workers and, of course, post it on all of your social media platforms.
about the author
Valarie Traynham has been a myeloma survivor since 2015. Wanting to be a source of support, provide patient education and encouragement to help others along their myeloma journey, she is a volunteer myeloma coach, myeloma support group leader and patient advocate. She enjoys being outdoors, reading, and trying new recipes.